(CNSNews.com) - The Trump administration this week announced it would impose $50 billion in proposed tariffs against Chinese products, to which China in kind announced tariffs against 106 U.S. products.
Then on Thursday, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to impose an additional $100 billion on Chinese tariffs “in light of China’s unfair retaliation.”
“On April 3, 2018, the USTR announced approximately $50 billion in proposed tariffs on imports from China as an initial means to obtain the elimination of policies and practices identified in the investigation,” the president said in a statement. “Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers.
“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs. I have also instructed the Secretary of Agriculture, with the support of other members of my Cabinet, to use his broad authority to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests,” Trump said.
“Notwithstanding these actions, the United States is still prepared to have discussions in further support of our commitment to achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade and to protect the technology and intellectual property of American companies and American people. Trade barriers must be taken down to enhance economic growth in America and around the world,” he said.
When asked what prompted the president to make this statement and to up the ante against China, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The United States is responding to Chinese actions that have gone on for decades. The Chinese have engaged in unfair and illegal trade practices for many years, and this is simply a response to that.
Sanders said the administration would like to see the Chinese “make significant changes to the trade back and forth that we have with them, and that’s the purpose.”
When pressed to explain what prompted the escalation given that the president had already announced $60 billion of goods and then added another $100 billion on top of that on Thursday, Sanders said, “Just the president is gonna actually something and be tough when no one else has been willing to do this.
Sanders said China is the one that created the problem, and Trump “is trying to put pressure on them to fix it and to take back some of the terrible actions that they’ve had over the last several decades.”
During an interview with CNBC, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the objective is not to be in a trade war with China, and that he’s “cautiously optimistic that we will be able to work this out.” Mnuchin then added that “there is the potential of a trade war.”
When asked about Mnuchin’s comments, Sanders emphasized that “this is something that China has created, and President Trump is trying to fix it.” She said the U.S. will “continue putting pressure on China to stop in the illegal and unfair trade practices that they have continued in for decades.”
When asked if Trump is willing to fight a trade war on this, Sanders said, “We don’t want it to come to that. The president wants to move to a process of fairness to free and open trade, and that’s what he’s trying to do.”
When asked whether it’s still Trump’s view that trade wars are easy to win, Sanders said, “I think the president feels like if he is in charge of those negotiations, absolutely. He’s the best negotiator at the table, and we certainly have full confidence in his ability to help move things forward.”
“I think if you look simply at the KORUS deal in which the president was able to get a much better deal for the United States,” Sanders said said, referring to the renegotiation of the trade deal with South Korea, also known as the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement. “We’ve made great progress with NAFTA, and we’re hoping to have great progress on the trade deal with China.